I have discovered the secret to bike & build: bike only every other day (if only). I would say you have no idea how much a day’s rest helps refresh and reset your muscles, but I’m sure literally everyone would expect that.
I woke up convinced that my only option was to do everything excellently to fly beneath the radar of yesterday’s vague threats. The town hall meeting resulted in our waking up at 5 am every morning from here on out, so I was up at 5 and somehow managed to get my bag out at the van within the first several bags. This is from always being in the last few. The only real change I made was to keep my tooth brush and paste in my daypack so I could get my bag out without waiting to do that.
I biked with other Jenna, Meegan, and RTK (Real Third Katie). The morning route through Mississippi was beautiful. Pastoral to wraparound porches to a stretch of Gulf beach lined with elegant homes. Entering Louisiana brought a photo op and roads that seemed to have been built in square patches, both the black asphalt and the long stretch of tan pavement that was more suited for a sidewalk. Amazingly the roads were relatively quiet, which was a wonderful break after so many highways.
At lunch, Maddy told us that a woman had informed her that she’d be going over five bridges to get to New Orleans. I tried to put this out of my mind, as well as hope they’d just be cute little flat bridges with nice bayou views. Several were, but with only a few miles to go, we rounded a corner and the scariest bridge I’ve ever seen came into view. Steep, without a shoulder to shield you from the 70 mph cars that you’re forced to merge into over a grate. I could hardly make it up the slope alone, never mind the constant traffic. My riding group was fantastic, cheering me on and strategizing how we could get up and across this bridge alive. While one truck honked at us (if only that could make me faster– I have the same goal as you, truck), another idled behind us to shield our way. Thank you, guardian angel truck. Also, we saw a man biking up the other way, which is ludicrous because he didn’t have to cross this bridge. It was possibly the hardest thing I have ever done to keep pedaling through the immense pain in my legs into the traffic.
On the other side we faced the wind and rocky roads of the Lower 9th Ward. Riding over the bumps masquerading as streets, we reached our host, a large former school turned volunteer camp. We set up our bunk beds and ate Filipino chicken and rice (the woman serving said all soy sauce varieties besides her favorite taste like water). We then headed out to Frenchmen Street, where I pursued my obnoxiously modest goal of standing outside with liquor and wandered around as a group of thirty through clubs, bars, art fairs, a street brass band, and finally, Bourbon Street.